A Unique Man
Peter Freeman was a remarkable politician. He was a Labour MP for Newport from 1945 to 1956. He had some far-sighted, innovative views including a belief in devolved power, public health, animal welfare and opposition to capital punishment. He was also leading supporter of the Theosophy Society.
Following a period as a councillor in Penarth he was elected as Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for Brecon and Radnorshire at the 1929 general election, defeating the Conservative MP Walter D’Arcy Hall by only 187 votes. When Labour split at the 1931 general election over Ramsay MacDonald’s formation of a National Government, D’Arcy Hall retook the seat with a majority of over 8,000.
Freeman unsuccessfully stood at the 1935 general election in the Newport constituency, losing by 1,545 votes to the Conservative MP Reginald Clarry. When Clarry died in January 1945, Freeman did not contest the by-election on 17 May. However, at the general election in July 1945, he took the seat with a majority of 9,091 votes over Clarry’s Conservative successor Ronald McMillan Bell.
Freeman held the seat until his death in 1956 at the age of 67. The resulting Newport by-election, 1956 was won by the Labour candidate Frank Soskice, the former Attorney General. His funeral at Stow Hill Methodist Church was attended by future Speaker, George Thomas and future Prime Minister James Callaghan.
FREEMAN IN THE COMMONS – SOME EXAMPLES OF HIS QUESTIONS TO MINISTERS
Tea Allowance Application, Newport
21 April 1948 Hansard vol 449 c1813 1813
§ 52. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that a small supply of tea has been refused by the local food officer for the monthly mothers’ meeting at St. Andrew’s Church at Lliswens, Newport; and whether, in view of the fact that such supplies are available for youth and other organisations, he will authorise a supply for this purpose.
§ Dr. Edith Summerskill (Minster for Food)
My right hon. Friend is not prepared to make tea available for this purpose. The circumstances are quite different from those of youth clubs and similar organisations.
§ Mr. Freeman
Why this discrimination against mothers?
§ Dr. Summerskill
We are not discriminating against mothers. We are prepared to give allowances of certain foods to women who meet together to make garments for charitable institutions, but we are not prepared to allocate food to any group of women who wish to have an occasional chat.
Aust-Beachley Ferry, River Severn
04 April 1949 Hansard vol 463 c155W 155W
§ 11. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware of the slow, unsatisfactory and dangerous conditions operating at the Aust-Beachley Ferry over the Severn; and, in view of the fact that the new Severn Bridge has been postponed, if he will take steps to see that the arrangements are improved and additional ferry-boats provided to meet the increased number of motor cars which will be using it this summer.
§ Mr. Barnes
This ferry is privately owned and I have no jurisdiction over it. I understand that a second vessel will be put into service again this year in time for Easter, and will run, as traffic requires, throughout the summer. The service should thus be equal to that provided last year.
Hansard 04 May 1949 vol 464 c1026 1026
§ 55. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Food whether he is aware that many children in Newport have been unable to obtain any allowance of bananas this year, in spite of the fact that there are deliveries about once a fortnight and that other people are frequently able to obtain them; and if he will take further steps to sec that his regulations are enforced in this respect.
§ Mr. Strachey
My enforcement inspectors are instructed to do all in their power to see that the provisions of the Bananas Order are being observed. I shall be glad to investigate any case of an alleged offence against the order if particulars are sent to me.
§ Mr. Freeman
What action is taken against a retailer who does not give priority to children?
§ Mr. Strachey
If a case can be investigated and proved a prosecution can follow.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore
Can the right hon. Gentleman say who are these “other people” who are so frequently able to obtain bananas?
§ Mr. Strachey
The persons referred to in my hon. Friend’s Question are, presumably, adults.
Flooding, Newport—Cardiff Road
Hansard November 1951 vol 493 c637 637
§ 27. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Transport whether he is aware that on 4th November the Newport— Cardiff road was flooded to the extent of four feet to six feet near the Tredegar Park; that this road is frequently impassable owing to floods; and, in view of the fact that it is the main connecting road between South Wales and England, what steps he is taking to prevent a recurrence of flooding.
§ Mr. Maclay
I am aware of the recent flooding to which the hon. Member refers, but according to my information this road is not flooded at all frequently. The best remedy appears to be a drainage system for the River Ebbw as a whole, and I understand that action is in train to set up a river board for this area.
§ Mr. Freeman
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this difficulty has been in existence for a very long time, and that it occurs very frequently? Will he consider, as an alternative to his proposal, raising this road two or three feet for the short space of 200 or 300 yards and so settle this problem, which is a very serious menace to traffic there?
§ Mr. Maclay
I understand that the raising of the road would not necessarily solve the problem as it would provide another dam, which might cause even further flooding. The whole trouble appears to be due to the silting up of the bed of the River Ebbw and the action I have suggested is probably the best one to take in the circumstances.
Hansard 13 June 1951 vol 488 c182W 182W
§ 71. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Postmaster-General whether he will affix a “No Smoking” notice on all telephone kiosks.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
No; such a notice would not be acceptable to the public, and, in any case, could not be enforced.
Usk Bridge (presumably George Street Bridge!)
Hansard 10 March 1954 vol 524 c153W 153W
§ 69. Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he has considered the letter from the town clerk of Newport, protesting against the omission of a river bridge over the Usk from the Government proposals, in view of the continued congestion and the vulnerability at this point; and whether he will include it in the next year’s capital expenditure.
§ Mr. Lennox-Boyd
I have considered that letter. As I have already told the hon. Member, I hope to find a place for the by-pass and bridge in a later stage of the programme, but if he is referring to a proposal for an additional local bridge South of the existing bridge, I regret that I can give no undertaking as regards this project.
Hansard 12 April 1954 vol 526 c90W 90W
§ Mr. Peter Freeman
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to prohibit steeple-chases in view of the cruelty and suffering involved for horses.
§ Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe